Like most of America, I am struggling to choose a candidate.
Neither the candidates nor their handlers – or even the media with their never-ending stream of commentary – are helping. Every day, one or both of the candidates gets called out some sordid example of bad behavior. And in response, a sheepish chorus starts bleating loudly.
"It's just business," they say. Or "it's just politics".
That was especially evident a few nights ago. Both Clinton and Trump were slinging some pretty spectacular accusations and half-truths at each other during the debate – and deflecting them with the same all-purpose excuse. "That's just business," they or their supporters would say. Or "that's just politics."
Eleven years ago, Diana and I started a new adventure as the owners of Furniture Consignment Gallery on route 53 in Hanover. I heard that phrase a lot in the first few weeks and months in business. Being young and idealistic – I was in my early thirties back then – I usually got the condescending version: "It's just business, kid."
Typically, that phrase was being offered up as an explanation for some sort of shifty practice or questionable short-cut. And you can bet that someone – usually me in those days – was getting a raw deal. I learned to hate the phrase "just business". I hate it even more now. Because I know from experience there is no excuse.
Early on, Diana and I made the decision that we would succeed or fail without having to resort to the kinds of practices that required excuses. And over time we've proven that business can be fair and honest. Business can be kind and respectful. Business can have integrity – and still be successful.
That's not to say that business isn't hard. Tough decisions are often required. And sometimes we make mistakes. We apologize and we correct them. At the heart of it, every enterprise is a relationship – with customers, employees, suppliers and partners – built on trust, a day at a time.
Listen up, candidates. No more excuses. It isn't just business. It's personal. And it matters if you want my vote.